So the running joke here is the 4 stages of culture shock. We are frequently evaluating ourselves to see which stage we fall into. Even the slightest signs of unhappiness are sure indications of stage 2 (the stage of depression, homesickness, and overall hating your life). While I am not sure I would consider myself in stage 2, I have certainly been experiencing the struggles of life here, and do at times long to be back in the states. I think the worst is when I am so frustrated with the technicians and lack of resources here at the hospital. For example, the other day we wanted to work on cleaning some aspirators, but it was so hard to find a spot to clean them (let alone rags and alcohol) that I nearly wanted to give up. Not to mention that my frustration had already risen after spending considerable time on an intercom system that would not work. It is just so tiring always trying to fight with crappy tools, the inability to access any of the materials for ourselves, and technicians who are less than helpful.  Needless to say I am sure I was probably not the best partner to work with yesterday. I suppose I am just used to being able to access things much more quickly.

HOWEVER, today was infinitely much better. We have befriended Dilia in Labor y Parto, and she was incredibly helpful today. We got our own spot in one of their rooms, they gave us access to all of the resources, and it was just wonderful to have a little bit of space and assistance. We were able to repair several machines, including a few aspirators, a few infusion pumps, and a pulse oximeter. And by repair I mean we cleaned them up a bit and figured out how to use them. It is quite amazing how often they throw out a machine simply because they don’t understand how to use it. They do not receive the manuals they need in Spanish and many of the nurses I am sure do not have the highest levels of education.

The most frightening thing that occurred today, though, was that as soon as we fixed one of the infusion pumps we asked if we could have an iv and some fluid so we could test it. So the nurse promptly took us over to an IV and told us to connect it. The only problem is that the IV was CONNECTED TO A PATIENT. I was like, what the crap I have no idea what I am doing. I really had never even attempted to use the thing and I had NO idea how it worked. Thank God it was a fairly straightforward machine and we were able to get it figured out fairly easily. And it was just saline solution so not quite so dangerous. Still, I think I probably should have been a little more firm in asking for a separate bag to test on so that I was not affecting the patient. These were women in labor about to give birth and we were in there screwing around with an infusion pump. I felt terrible. I also almost fainted. Haha. I am normally quite fine with needles and medicine and what not, but for some reason this got to me today. Perhaps it was the moaning women who were clearly in lots of pain, or I don’t know what the issue was, but it was a very new experience for me. I really wanted to watch one of the birthings, but that did not happen today. Maybe another day. It is so different because the family/husband does not come in, there are just two big rooms with a few beds each where the women lie as they are dialating, and then there is a room where they give birth, and then they are whisked out. Women here typically have at least 4 to 5 children, and sometimes as many as 11 -13. Our friend Jorge said that it is because they don’t have electricity so as soon as it gets dark they just have to go to bed…  ;) I think it is still a joyous time, but certainly not as big a deal as it is in the United States.

Anyway, we were also attempting to fix a broken fetal monitor. That was the most frustrating because they are pretty clearly in need of these monitors, however we spent the entire day attempting to repair them and were extremely unsuccessful. These machines were incredibly old, and we are not very knowledgeable about how they work, so alas we were not able to accomplish anything. However, once again they had us test the probes on the patients as they lay there. So I got to test the heart beat of a very pregnant woman, sadly we could not get it to work :( I feel so strange because I am clearly not a doctor and there is much that I don’t know about dosing and all this medical stuff, but I am learning quickly. For instance, there is 20 drops per one mL of fluid. And a drop in Spanish is a gota. We had no idea what that was today. Haha oh the adventures we have!

So all this to say that we are encouraged by our progress in the hospital (today at least). Oh and our friend Jorge said that tomorrow he would get us a gallon of alcohol and some towels. I am quite pleased that we asked him about it and I think it will be really useful. Oh and lately we have started sitting with him at lunch. He might move to the states soon and so every day he wants to practice his English. We talk in Spanish while he speaks in English. It’s a great way to practice for all of us. I would love to continue that tradition because it gives us more access to the hospital as well.

There are still many areas of the hospital that we have yet to explore, so we are eager to get into all those different areas, but for now we are trying to finish up in Labor y Parto since we appear to have a pretty good thing going there.

Hopefully things continue to look up from here!



Wowwee! Sounds like you are right in the middle of everything! You're very brave to do this work that you do. You've found that confidence in God and how God's provided you with the knowledge to take on these challenges. My sister would love to hear these stories since she just started her nursing career.


The blog is very complete and very helpful the pictures you used to understand, really amused me much, if I really like your blog!


Pass our songs, laughter; I am waiting for your wonderful life! Come on!


Hi, this is useful weblog, i need it, i can learn more, thanks; it comes from does not siwm's fish 11-24-2010.

Hey,man your Blog is awesome ,will definitely come again soon ,keep it up.

The picture you post is beautiful.

This article is so useful for me. You are very nice.

Interesting topic, come on!

Comments are closed.